Model, Spacecraft, Mother Ship, Movie, "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind"

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    Mother Ship Model,

    Cicular, double-tiered, with many projecting spires coming out around the circumference and tubes of different sizes, along with rods, some curved, projecting from top; mounted on black pipe, with bundle of electronic wires coming out from side of pipe; bundle, with 32 wires, for lighting the many small neon lights within the model by outside outside power source or sources; details on model largely made from HO, N, and O guage model train parts and other model kits, then painted over; overall, dark glossy grey; case contains 32 wire strands in a compartment under the model.

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    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Mother Ship Model,

    Cicular, double-tiered, with many projecting spires coming out around the circumference and tubes of different sizes, along with rods, some curved, projecting from top; mounted on black pipe, with bundle of electronic wires coming out from side of pipe; bundle, with 32 wires, for lighting the many small neon lights within the model by outside outside power source or sources; details on model largely made from HO, N, and O guage model train parts and other model kits, then painted over; overall, dark glossy grey; case contains 32 wire strands in a compartment under the model.

    2 of 6

    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Mother Ship Model,

    Cicular, double-tiered, with many projecting spires coming out around the circumference and tubes of different sizes, along with rods, some curved, projecting from top; mounted on black pipe, with bundle of electronic wires coming out from side of pipe; bundle, with 32 wires, for lighting the many small neon lights within the model by outside outside power source or sources; details on model largely made from HO, N, and O guage model train parts and other model kits, then painted over; overall, dark glossy grey; case contains 32 wire strands in a compartment under the model.

    3 of 6

    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Mother Ship Model,

    Cicular, double-tiered, with many projecting spires coming out around the circumference and tubes of different sizes, along with rods, some curved, projecting from top; mounted on black pipe, with bundle of electronic wires coming out from side of pipe; bundle, with 32 wires, for lighting the many small neon lights within the model by outside outside power source or sources; details on model largely made from HO, N, and O guage model train parts and other model kits, then painted over; overall, dark glossy grey; case contains 32 wire strands in a compartment under the model.

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    Mother Ship Model - Close Encounters of the Third Kind Detail

    Close-up photo of details added to the Close Encounters of the Third Kind Mother Ship Model during its construction.  The model makers put together a complex model to convey an overall effect of a city of light.  They used various train and other model kit parts and, knowing that smaller details probably wouldn't be visible in the final cut of the film, they added some inside jokes.  One example is this R2-D2 which, as it turns out, is actually visible in the film.
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    Mother Ship Model - Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Udvar-Hazy Ctr

    The mother ship model used for the 1977 film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is among the more unusual artifacts found at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
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This object is on display in the Rockets & Missiles at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Rockets & Missiles

This is the model of the alien Mother Ship used in the filming of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (Columbia Pictures, 1977). The ship was conceived by Steven Spielberg, the film's director and screenwriter. It was made by a team headed by Gregory Jein, using model train parts and other kits. When filmed with special photographic and lighting effects, the model appears to be a huge, hovering craft. Rotating, colored lights underneath the ship added to its effects.

Looking closely at the model, one can find tiny hidden smaller models which are not seen when the Mother Ship appears in the film. These models were added by the model makers as internal "jokes." They include a Volkswagen bus, a submarine, the R2-D2 android, a U.S. mailbox, an aircraft, and a small cemetery plot.